Author: Jessica Freedman BA
As the reproductive health revolution is making its way to the workplace, “Hertility Answers” addresses queries from human resources, rewards and benefits managers on all things women’s health.
Does fertility treatment fit into any existing policies?
In the UK, there is no legal right for time off work for IVF treatment or related sickness. Employers treat appointments for IVF treatment like any other medical appointment, and if an employee is off sick due to the side effects of IVF, then absence is treated the same as any other sick leave.
For those going through treatment, once the embryo is transferred and implants in the uterus, the woman is deemed legally to be pregnant and from that time, she is legally protected from unfavourable treatment for the duration of her pregnancy.
What is a fertility treatment policy?
A ‘fertility treatment’ or ‘fertility leave’ policy typically enables employees and partners to take a specified number of days off work for coping with fertility treatment. Usually, the person undergoing treatment is eligible for 5-8 days leave to both receive and recover from treatment. Partners are also eligible for 2 days to provide support.
With 1 in 7 couples now struggling with fertility and the rates of infertility increasing, many employers are looking to introduce more specific policies and guidelines for those going through fertility treatment.
What are the benefits of implementing a fertility leave policy?
These policies enable companies to recognise the emotional and physical challenges, which arise from undergoing fertility treatments, and support members of staff undergoing fertility treatment. Having a written policy on fertility treatment helps employers to:
- Reduce stress of employees going through treatment, therefore improving workplace culture and boosting productivity
- Demonstrate both care and an understanding of fertility in the workplace and encourage employee disclosure
- Remove any uncertainty staff might have on how an employer addresses such issues and what employees can do to access support
What is an example of best practice?
PwC has introduced a policy that will enable members of staff to take eight days of paid leave for fertility consultations and appointments. Those whose partners are having fertility treatment will be entitled to two days of paid leave to provide support.
Tips for introducing a fertility treatment policy
- Recognise the stress associated with undergoing fertility treatment
- Emphasise that use of leave will remain confidential
- Specify how much leave can be taken and what is covered at each stage e.g. medical appointments, and outline whether this will be paid at full pay or partial pay.
- Have a clear procedure set out for how an employee would request and take this leave
- Don’t forget the partners! Whilst less of a physical burden, IVF treatment can have a severe impact on personal relationships.
- Communicate the new policy to your works and listen for feedback.
Hertilty Health is committed to improving access to reproductive healthcare for your workforce. Hertility has designed a seamless care pathway from testing to appointments to enable reduced time and stress when going through a fertility journey. Hertility provides educational workshops, female health assessments and consultations with in-house experts in fertility, menopause, PCOS, endometriosis and gynaecology.